Building Renovation Rehab of former Ashley Cafe a major plus for city neighborhood
Hartford Courant Editorial
August 23, 2012
The Ashley Cafe at the corner of Garden and Ashley streets in Hartford was a tough joint, a gin mill of low repute, a poor advertisement for a neighborhood trying to revive itself.
The operative word is "was." The cafe is gone and the blond-brick, three-story apartment building in which it stood is being done over into a mixed-use structure that will be an asset to the Sigourney Square/ Asylum Hill neighborhood.
There is no downside to this story. The Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance Inc., which has been rehabilitating Victorian homes in the area for nearly a decade, acquired the building about two years ago. The city and The Hartford Financial Services group, which is up the street, provided facade improvement funds. The light yellow brick on the 1926 building has been cleaned, and new windows will arrive shortly.
Kenneth D. Johnson, NINA's executive director, said he expects the exterior work to be done by the end of the year, with the interiors to be finished next year. When it is done, there will be an office tenant on the third floor, four apartments on the second and retail outlets — with large retail windows replacing the current bunker-style windows.
The remake of this building is important for several reasons. It is highly visible, so for years was a symbol of decay. That will change. It is also the last structure in the immediate area in need of rehab, the last piece of the puzzle that upgrades this part of the neighborhood.
There are more than 150 Victorian structures in the Sigourney Square area. As each one is done over, and middle-class people and new businesses move in, the positive momentum increases.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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